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Princeton students get a healthy reception in Sunderland

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Published on 09 June 2022

(L-R) Princeton University students April Yoo, Will Koloc and Naomi Frim-Abrams at Hope Street Xchange, University of Sunderland
(L-R) Princeton University students April Yoo, Will Koloc and Naomi Frim-Abrams at Hope Street Xchange, University of Sunderland

Three students from the prestigious Princeton University in America have travelled thousands of miles to the University of Sunderland to embark on life-changing placements.

The students, who are part of Princeton’s Global Health Programme, are spending the next month on various health and social care-related placements in the city as part of an internship project developed by Sunderland’s Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute and Princeton University staff in 2019.

The students are:

  • Will Koloc, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Will is undertaking his placement working on social prescribing initiatives in the third sector across the city, which are aimed at reducing health inequalities.

Social prescribing involves helping people to improve their health, wellbeing and social welfare by connecting them to community services which might be run by the council, link workers or a local charity. Examples include volunteering, arts activities, group learning, gardening, befriending, cookery, healthy eating advice and a range of sport.

Will, who is studying English and Pre-Health at Princeton, said: “The Sunderland community is incredibly tight-knit and the people value helping each other succeed, which makes for a great work environment.

“Working in the voluntary sector has been a refreshing change from the United States. It is so great to see funding and attention going into health and well-being through social prescribing.”

  • Naomi Frim-Abrams, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Naomi’s placement focuses on arts-based social prescribing, working on the Seascapes project and with Cultural Spring.

After high school Naomi participated in the Bridge Year Indonesia Program, where she lived in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for nine months with a host family, learned to speak Indonesian, volunteered at a disability rights non-governmental organisation (NGO), and travelled throughout the country.

Naomi, who is studying Sociology at Princeton, said: “My time in Sunderland has been great so far. I’ve loved meeting both students and faculty members at the University and everyone has been excited to tell us about their work and experiences.

“The city itself has been fun to explore. I've loved walking along Roker Beach and in the city centre. Overall, I'm excited to learn even more about health systems in Sunderland and get to know the city.”

  • April Yoo, from East Rutherford, New Jersey

April is very proud of her Korean American heritage and is the first person in her family to go to university.

Last summer, April interned at Partners for Andean Community Health (PACH), a non-profit public organisation that brings healthcare to the Chimborazo Province area in Ecuador. Now, she is completing her placement with Veterans in Crisis, Sunderland (VICS) supporting veteran health and wellbeing.

April, who is studying Medical Anthropology at Princeton, said: “The VICS and University of Sunderland staff have been very accommodating and helpful. I look forward to continuing working with them this summer.”

The students, who are staying in University of Sunderland accommodation during their visit, have also been invited as guests to one of the University’s summer graduation ceremonies at the Stadium of Light.   

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland, met with the students at the University’s Hope Street Xchange on City Campus yesterday (Thursday, 9 June).  

He said: “I am delighted to welcome to the University of Sunderland three students from Princeton, one of the most distinguished higher education institutions in the United States. As someone who personally benefited from living and studying in the USA for a year, I can testify to the lifelong, and life-changing, value of spending time abroad.

“As well as having an opportunity to undertake various health-related placements, we are going to ensure that our guests sample the many and various delights of the city of Sunderland, including a visit to the Stadium of Light in July to attend one of our graduation ceremonies. As a result, I hope that our American friends will always have a special place in their hearts for the University and the city.”

Sir David and the students were joined yesterday by:

  • Professor Yitka Graham, Head of the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute and Professor of Health Services Research, University of Sunderland

Yitka has been working with Princeton University’s Global Health Programme Leaders to align the student placements to the aims of the programme. This has been enthusiastically supported by the Institute’s external partners, who have generously provided placements within local organisations, ensuring that Will, April and Naomi have the best experience possible.

  • Karen Wharton, Senior Lecturer in Marketing Strategy and Innovation, University of Sunderland

Karen completed a secondment in expanding global study opportunities back in 2019/2020. During this time Karen attended the NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference where she developed vital links with colleagues at Princeton University, inviting them to the University of Sunderland in 2019, where the exchange was developed.

  • Lauren Marriott and Alice Ortlieb – International Office, University of Sunderland

Lauren and Alice plan all induction and non-academic activities for visiting students to the University on the Study Abroad and Exchange.They provided a week-long induction ensuring Will, Naomi and April settled in and had a tour of the sights and sounds of Sunderland, including traditional fish and chips on Roker Beach.